In an unusual twist of fate, I’m in Jersey at the moment. Jersey in the Channel Islands, a place I know well. And by coincidence my latest in the World Travellers series is none other than the lovely Laura, the Traveling Jersey Girl. Or New Jersey if you like. She’s the TJG.
Who are you?
Hi, my name is Laura. I’ve always had a desire to travel and when I had my first taste of going abroad alone in 2007, I was more then hooked. I developed a travel bug for many places I haven’t set foot on. I have a deep passion for meeting new people of different cultures and learning new perspectives on. I love being a complete stranger in a foreign land, it’s a kind of rush that pushes me to get out of my comfort zone and explore the places I visit. I love to travel but more so to write about my travels. I travel with a journal where I handwrite all my experiences everyday, I’ll even write when I’m drunk, those are usually some good stories. In all seriousness, my goal is to inspire people to live out their dreams whether that’s traveling or not. I set an intention to travel the world and I’m doing it.
Where are you from?
I am born and raised in New Jersey, don’t believe the negative stereotype of NJ. It’s a great place but currently I live in New York just 30 minutes outside of NYC. I always felt like my heart belonged elsewhere then The States but I realized after moving abroad for 3.5 months that I want a homebase and travel to and fro whenever I want. Being a nomad is wonderful but surprisingly I crave stability. I will jump and leap when I feel the urge to travel but I’m really enjoying my time at home and traveling here and there which is usually quite a bit.
Where have you been?
I’ve been to 13 countries and it will continue to climb.
Where are you now?
I am in Valley Cottage, NY
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
It’s hard to just pick 3 but…
Interlaken, Switzerland which always have a place in my heart. I learned a lot about myself there when I was 18 and again when I was 24. Eye opening experience. And plus the views were amazing. Costa Rica: For it’s warm culture and beautiful people. The country is gorgeous, the food was delicious and I loved the overall vibe of the country. Very laid back and environmentally aware.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
I’ve had so many but the ones that immediately pop into my head are:
Visiting Interlaken for the first time and falling in love with the hostel I stayed at, the people who worked there were so welcoming. I spent 22 days in that hostel and it was very hard to leave. Meeting a guy on my group tour for my first trip to Europe, he was my tour guide. We had a thing for each other, but the moment him and I were standing at the top of the eiffel tower looking at the city of Paris is something I’ll never forget. Going back to see him the next year after working two jobs and saving my money to see him in Vienna. Packing my bags and booking a one way ticket to move to Switzerland. Trying rock climbing for the first time in Switzerland with people I just met. Booking a ticket to visit Costa Rica to road trip throughout the country. Riding on the back of a motorcycle through the most scenic drive in Switzerland surrounded by the Swiss alps.
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
Getting unbelievably sick with a very high fever in Switzerland and having to travel back to Frankfurt to head back home to the states. I wasn’t smart and didn’t buy travel medical insurance thinking I’d be okay for 2 months traveling. I arrived too late in Frankfurt to find a pharmacy but a local told me there was one in the train station. I was walking around the city for hours and on the verge of tears because I couldn’t find a pharmacy. I was worried because I didn’t have any medications left from home that I could use and there was a heat wave going on in Germany at the time which didn’t make me feel any better. I felt horrible but luckily found the pharmacy in the train station and got something to bring down my fever. That was a scary moment since I was alone.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
This moment is so simple but it was hilarious at the time. I met a guy named Matt in Costa Rica who was traveling along with me and my friend for about a week or so. Him and I were flirty with each other but we found this great hostel in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We were sitting down about to have dinner and drinks, and he either sneezed or coughed in a weird way that his chin moved in a funny way. I couldn’t stop laughing, I was crying from laughing so hard and then he started dying too. The hostel owner who happened to be American was like what is wrong with you guys, but we’ve already stayed at this hostel for 5 days and loved this guy but anyway this went on for at least 20 minutes. It sounds silly but it was so funny in the moment.
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
Oh boy, probably in Pisa, Italy. I was essentially sexually molested or attacked by a hostel owner. I wasn’t raped but it could have went there but thank god it didn’t. I was with these two girls who I met through couch surfing while I was traveling around Europe, we just came having a girls weekend in Cinque Terre and had a very long travel day to Pisa. We were tired and hangry (Hunger-anger). I just wanted to pay this man for our room, get food and knock out. He was giving me sexual stares and flirting with my other friend but I was too tired and annoyed to let it get to me. He seemed impressed or turned on actually that I had an italian passport being that I am American. Long story short, when he said he didn’t have change for the amount I gave him, he said come downstairs to the corner store and I’ll get you change. When I walked with him he pushed me into a corner of the wall and started kissing and groping me. I told him to stop many times and had a hard time fighting him off. He tried to put his hand up my shorts but I wouldn’t let him. He eventually stopped but I was really shaken after that and got my friends and left.
I wrote more about this in more detail on my website www.travelingjerseygirl.com
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
Being a pub crawl photographer completely sober.
How do you fund your travels?
I work and save my money. I live a very simple life and traveling is my priority. I don’t spend money on lavish materialistic items because in my mind, it could be a flight somewhere. It’s all about what you are willing to sacrifice in order to make your dreams come true.
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
1. Research where you’re going, learn basics of the language like “hi, how are you, thank you etc.” you have no idea how much people appreciate when you try to speak their language.
2. Use skyscanner for cheap flights. I’ve saved lots of money using that website.
3. Have fun. Embrace the journey you are going on. Some people get so worked up over finding out everything at once where it becomes overwhelming. Just have your first hostel ready to go and go from there. Be open to meeting other people along your travels and be flexible with your travel plans. I’ve had the best experiences when I just went with the flow rather than following an itinerary.
What are your future travel plans?
I’m heading to Thailand in March for a month to get my yoga certification. So I’m busting my ass to save my money and go to Thailand for the very first time. I’m beyond excited about it and I also set up a Fund My Travel website where if you are feeling generous you can donate to people’s travel campaigns. It’s a really great site.
My name is Laura, I’m a 20 something adventurous woman who enjoys traveling the world. I did the whole college thing you’re supposed to do after high school and got my degree in forensic psychology but felt it wasn’t enough. There was more for me out there and I wanted to explore it.
I had my first taste of solo international travel in 2007 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I struggled with anxiety for quite a few years and it held me back from doing things I loved. Traveling was my cure. It was a different kind of anxiety; a rush of not knowing where I was and people didn’t know who I was and being in a completely foreign land. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning about their cultures and traditions. Each trip I took molded me into who I am today.
I am very open about my experiences both the good and bad. Travel blogging sometimes portrays a facade where the raw, vulnerable moments get lost. Traveling is not always sunshine and rainbows, but those are the moments I treasure moments because I grow from those experiences. My purpose is to write about my experiences truthfully and inspire other people to chase their dreams whether that’s traveling or not. If I can inspire just one person to take the leap and travel the world then I have done my job.
Get to know more about Laura:
Thanks to Laura for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured, either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!